Please completely ignore any advice which mentions “looking at a distant object” or avoiding direct eye contact with your Students. Anyone offering that kind of coaching to Yoga teachers… simply hasn’t got a clue what they are talking about!
When it comes to speaking to people, in public situations, whether in a yoga class, workshop, teacher training, a seminar, or simply a conversation with friends over lunch, a good eye contact signals that the communicator is:
Shakespeare called the eyes “the mirror of the soul”.
In the Western culture, if I am speaking to you without looking at you, it’s often thought to be a sign that I am not being honest.
If I am “shifting” my eye gaze from person to person quickly, if I am “spraying” the group with my eye gaze, or if I am not looking at anyone at all – people may feel ignored, left out, unimportant, or even feel as if they’re being cheated!
In my approach to teaching Yoga, called the Hot Yoga Evolution, when I am leading my yoga class, I am looking at the person or the people that I am talking to.
The best approach to making eye contact when teaching a group class varies depending on the size of the group.
In a class of less than 25 Students, it should be quite easy to make eye contact one Student at a time, without leaving anyone out over the course of the class.
If your regular classes have over 25 students, it may be a good idea to speak left / center / right. You would be either looking at a person directly for each side, or you’d want to APPEAR to be looking at one person at a time.
It is important to mention that your ability to maintain eye contact depends on a few factors, such as:
- Lack of nervousness
- Having “internalized” the instructions and flow of the class
Once those factors are in place, you will incorporate eye contact as a natural aid to your delivery.
The point is not only in communicating more effectively and hooking your Students attention – when you give good eye contact while teaching, you yourself would feel wonderful!
We actively practice skills like those during my teacher training programs.